DULUTH, Minn. — Auditions began Sunday night for the next crop of goal-scorers for Minnesota-Duluth.
The defending NCAA champions faced Lakehead University of Thunder Bay, Ont., in an exhibition game at Amsoil Arena to open the 2011-12 season and took a 5-1 win before an announced crowd of 5,249 fans.
UMD held Lakehead to just nine shots on goal, while Travis Oleksuk collected a pair of goal.
The Bulldogs averaged 3.4 goals a game last season led by the line of Jack Connolly, Justin Fontaine and Mike Connolly. They combined for 68 goals and 171 points as the top-scoring threesome in Division I hockey. Fontaine and Mike Connolly are in professional hockey this season. In all, UMD lost 70 goals from 143 scored.
Among those looking to take larger offensive roles are junior wingers Mike Seidel and Dan DeLisle. Each had an assist in the first period against Lakehead as the Bulldogs got all the goals they needed for a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.
DeLisle, Chicago ‘s third-round pick in the 2009 NHL draft, said he ran a minimum of two miles a day over the summer to improve his cardiovascular fitness. Last season he had a two-goal game in a 6-0 home win over Alaska-Anchorage and has seven points in 56 career games.
“My strength is as a power forward — pass the puck and go hard to the net — and be strong in the corners,” said DeLisle. “We lost a lot of offense and we’re looking for players to step into those stakes and take over. That’s where I can help.”
Seidel has 13 goals in 72 career games at UMD, including eight goals in 41 games last season. He had two two-goal games in wins at Wisconsin and Minnesota State. He also had a goal in a 5-3 victory over then-No. 1 Yale in the NCAA East Regional title game.
Seidel worked on his skating technique as a summer camp instructor with the Greg Carter European Hockey School based in Concord , Mass.
“I’ve learned in the first two years (at UMD) that there’s never a bad-angle shot,” said Seidel. “I’m intent on getting a lot more pucks to the net and creating as much offense as possible.”
Coach Scott Sandelin said he expects UMD’s forward lines to change often through the early weeks of the season before finding the right chemistry.
“We don’t have a lot of 20- or 30-goal scorers,” noted Sandelin. “We will have to score by committee. Everyone will have to chip in. Mike (Seidel) averaged 50 points a season in three years in the USHL, so we know he’s capable. Dan is also someone we think can be a force.”
UMD’s power play generated 50 goals last season and operated at a 22.8 percent efficiency, ranked No. 10 in Division I. UMD was 3-of-8 on power plays against Lakehead.
The Bulldogs were No. 11 among 58 Division I teams on offense last season and No. 17 on defense with an average of 2.57 goals allowed per game.
Lakehead lost 5-3 Saturday night at Michigan Tech and then drove four hours to Duluth for Sunday’s game. Mitch Fillman had the Lakehead goal, tying the game 1-1 late in the first period. Joe Basaraba and Adam Krause, along with Jack Connolly, scored for UMD. J.T. Brown sat out a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules.
The regular season begins next Friday and Saturday at Amsoil Arena against top-ranked Notre Dame. UMD defeated the Fighting Irish, 4-3, in the 2011 Frozen Four semifinals.